Ships hit by U-boats

Pass of Balmaha

British Steam tanker

NamePass of Balmaha
Type:Steam tanker
Tonnage758 tons
Completed1933 - Blythswood Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Glasgow 
OwnerBulk Oil SS Co Ltd (James Cook & Co Ltd), London 
Date of attack17 Oct 1941Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-97 (Udo Heilmann)
Position31° 14'N, 28° 50'E - Grid CP 7189
Complement20 (20 dead - no survivors)
RouteAlexandria - Marsa Matruh - Tobruk 
CargoAviation fuel and petrol 
History Completed in September 1933

On 22 Jun 1941, the Pass of Balmaha left Alexandria with a cargo of 750 tons of aviation fuel for the besieged Tobruk, escorted by HMS Auckland (L 61) (Cdr M.S. Thomas, DSO, RN) and HMAS Parramatta (L 44) (LtCdr J.H. Walker, RAN). Two days later they were attacked in rolling attacks by German and Italian bombers that sank HMS Auckland and damaged the tanker, which was taken in tow for Tobruk by HMAS Waterhen (D 22) (LtCdr J.H. Swain, RN) at dusk, escorted by HMAS Vendetta (D 69) (LtCdr R. Rhoades, RAN). Some repairs were made in Tobruk and the tanker returned under escort by HMAS Parramatta to Alexandria, where they arrived on 30 June. 
Notes on event

At 00.55 hours on 17 Oct 1941, U-97 spotted a small convoy, consisting of the Samos and Pass of Balmaha under escort by HMS Cocker about 50 miles west of Alexandria. The ships formed the 4th convoy for Operation Cultivate, the relief of the Tobruk garrison. A first spread of three torpedoes missed at 02.17 hours, but a second spread of two torpedoes fired at 03.25 hours hit and sank the Samos. The second merchant was sunk with a spread of two torpedoes at 04.00 hours.

The Pass of Balmaha (Master Stanley Kilby Hardy) was hit by one torpedo and disappeared in a flaming inferno, a cloud of smoke and flames was seen rising about 300 meters. The master, 15 crew members and four gunners were lost.

On boardWe have details of 20 people who were on board

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